Monday, March 31, 2008

Drum roll, please!

My dear faithful readers, I am so excited to announce that I am one of the newest bloggers for DC Metro Moms!

This awesome blog launched in September 2007 and I've been a faithful reader since the beginning. A few weeks ago I e-mailed asking how they chose their writers and and they invited me on board! I'm thrilled and honored to be part of such a dynamic group of women (and man!) bloggers in the DC-area.

Hope you'll check them and me out at DC Metro Moms!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's a blog?

A few weeks ago my mom posted a message on her Carepage from my sister's blog. Many people posted replies to the message, including my aunt, my dad's eldest sister, who wrote this (unedited!):

Dear Patty, Sarah and all, Isn't this technology just great !!!!!! I thought E-mail was the bestest thing, but just what is a ""blog"" ??????? Another way to share I guess and that was a wonderful ""blog"" from Sarah. The very bestest things are hugs and smiles and if ""blogs"" can pass those around-------God bless the ""blog"" !!!!!

Beyond her ridiculous over use of quote marks and punctuation, I found this message to be very funny--and enlightening.

It reminded me of a lunch-time conversation I had about two and a half years ago with a group of English professors at the university I worked for at the time. Most of the professors were middle-age or younger, but one venerable--and favored--faculty member was in his 80s. In the middle of lunch he blurted out, "Now can anyone tell me why I see all these people with white wires hanging down the sides of their faces and what in the world is a blog?"

After I stifled my laughter I told him about ipods. Another faculty member chimed in that blogs are on-line diaries and they are "getting lots of kids in trouble--even ruining their chances of getting jobs--because of the personal stuff they put on-line for the world to see".

At the time I didn't have a blog and didn't read blogs, but I at least knew that they weren't all bad. In fact, I knew that a good friend of my brother had just been hired by VH-1 as a writer because they liked his blog so much. I shared this concept of blogs being used for good rather than evil with the table and the discussion lasted for about a half hour.

Two and a half years and 100 posts later, I clearly know much more about blogs. I wonder if those professors do, too?

And, I wonder what in the world my aunt would say if I shared this blog with her!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One Hundred

One hundred cans of soup...

One hundred pennies...


I can hardly believe it! When I started this in July I figured I'd just be talking to myself. Well, in fact, I was just talking to myself because I didn't tell a soul about it. For weeks. And weeks. Then I told Abel. Then a few friends. Then my mom. Then my sister. Then more friends.... And a few people found me (I think) and a few people commented. And, don't get me wrong, I LUV me some comments, but I realized it isn't about the readers (but I LUV LUV LUV you all!!!) but about just putting fingers to keyboard and thoughts to screen. And about capturing all those little thoughts and little moments that fly by sooooooo quickly.

So, cheers to me for 100 blog posts! Hope you'll stick around for 100 more because I plan to!

Faithfully yours,
Smiling Mama

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buckeye Territory

I'm from a small town in Southcentral Pennsylvania. It's about two hours from State College, home of Penn State and equidistant between Philly and Pittsburgh. In my family, we're Penn State fans. Others in town are die hard Eagles or Steelers fans. Football is big in my hometown, or I always thought so anyway.

You see, it's nothing compared to how big the Buckeyes are in Ohio.

I first noticed--really noticed--this phenomenon two years ago during our Christmas visit to Abel's hometown in Northwest Ohio. We were sitting in Applebee's (fine dining!) and as I looked around the restaurant I noticed that, on average, at least one person per table was wearing an Ohio State article of clothing. At some tables, everyone was wearing Buckeye paraphernalia.

This was not a football Saturday. It was not the day of a bowl game. It was just a regular old day in Buckeye territory.

This summer we went to the wedding of two Ohio State alumni. The entire wedding was Ohio State themed. The colors? Scarlet and Grey. The recessional song: the Alma Mater, Carmen Ohio. The favors? Ohio State beer koozies printed with the names of the bride and groom and wedding date. I am not kidding. And seriously, the bride and groom are two very stylish people. She even works in the fashion industry! Every single wedding of a college buddy of Abel's has included a packed dance floor with everyone doing O-H-I-O during "Hang on Sloopy" during the reception.

This past weekend we were in Ohio for Easter. Saturday afternoon we went to a local pizza place for lunch and sitting at the table next to us there were four women, a pre-teen boy and a toddler. Without staring too hard (I hope!) I noticed the following: 2 Ohio State t-shirts, 1 Ohio State purse, 1 pair Ohio State pants, 1 pair Ohio State earrings, 1 Ohio State sweatshirt, and 1 Ohio State leather jacket.

Please let me be clear--this was not a football Saturday. Ohio State was not playing in a March Madness basketball game that day. This was a regular old day. This was a regular wardrobe. This was a regular family. In Buckeye Territory.

But who am I to talk? Our groomsmen received Ohio State cuff links (all except my brother and our Michigan friend!) and Lucas's nursery is an Ohio State football theme.

The letters are wood; the baby buckeye was hand-painted by my mom and me! This is probably the most artistic thing I've done in my entire life!

Go Bucks!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cascarones: A Pictoral Review

Fun with Cascarones!

Step 1: Hollow eggs, allow to dry (this is best done over the course of several weeks before Easter).

Step 2: Decorate eggs.

Step 3: Fill with confetti!

Make sure to fill them to the brim!

Step 5: Glue tissue paper over the holes.

Step 6: Crack over the head of your adorable son!

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Grandmother

A few weeks ago my mom casually mentioned that it was the 10-year anniversary of my grandmother's death. 10 years. I could hardly believe it. She's been on my mind ever since. Actually, she's on my mind a lot, but especially so over the past few weeks.

By the time Abel and I met, all our grandparents had died. I truly wish that he had been able to meet my grandparents, especially my maternal grandparents. I wish they had gotten to meet him and Lucas. I wish I had gotten to meet Abel's grandparents, especially his maternal grandmother. I am so jealous of people my age or older who still have living grandparents. But I wouldn't trade or change anything about my grandparents for the world, so I try to just be grateful for the time I did have with them.

Several months before my grandmother died, perhaps it was even the last time I saw her, she gave me a great gift. This wasn't an item but rather a feeling of great comfort. I remember so clearly that she and I were sitting at her kitchen table one morning. My mom was puttering around the sink or stove. Out of the blue my grandmother said to me, "I want you to remember that it will not be a tragedy when your grandfather and I die. We have lived long and full lives."

By this point my grandmother had battled five different kinds of cancer and had lost her larynx to one of those cancers. She spoke with a little contraption which was essentially a vibrating straw she put in her mouth. It provided the vibration necessary to give the words she mouthed a sound. She was difficult to understand--especially when she started talking out of the blue like that. But this time I understood every word.

I nodded.

"Did you understand me?"


And that was that.

In fact, she died a beautiful death soon after our conversation, surrounded by her husband of more than fifty years and her five living children. From the stories told by my aunts and uncles, it was a very spiritual experience.

There is no doubt in my mind that she knows Abel and Lucas. And while her death was not a tragedy, that certainly doesn't make those of us who knew and loved her miss her any less.

Post Script. I have to admit that I wrote this entry several days ago. I don't know why I didn't post it immediately. Now, as I re-read it on Good Friday I know that this weekend is the perfect time for this post.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A bit of Paris on Capitol Hill

I love my brother dearly but my constant gripe is that he lives relatively close but rarely comes for a visit. He and Lucas adore each other and I really wish he'd visit more often.

This past weekend, however, he graced us with his presence for a quick overnight. We had a really nice time and I know both he and Lucas especially loved hanging out with each other.

If there's one thing in Washington, DC that Eric loves, it's Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. Saturday was absolutely beautiful so we headed over for a nice afternoon stroll. I had to stop at my favorite vendor--a woman who sells European greeting cards 3 for $2! They are always super-cute and I got 9 fabulous cards for only $6. Take that Hallmark!! Eric picked up a crazy piece of art, spending considerably more at $75 but still relatively cheap for an oil-painting that he really liked (not quite my taste but, hey, eye of the beholder, right?).

By far the best discovery of the afternoon, however, was a new (or new-to-us) Crepes at the Market stand. OMG--amazingly delicious! We walked by the stand (and long line!) a few times before finally succumbing to the wonderful smells and literally got the last two crepes of the day--lucky us! Eric picked up a turkey, spinach and cheese crepe; Lucas, Abel and I shared a nutella crepe.

It was a great way to enjoy a beautiful day and one of our favorite places in DC!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Mexican Easter

As you know, dear Internet, Abel and I started dating on Valentine's Day. That Easter we flew to San Antonio to meet his parents (any many other family members) who were in San Antonio for Fiesta. I don't think Easter was as early that year as it is this year, but still, that's only a few months later and pretty early-on in a relationship to spend a long-weekend away with many, many family members.

Truth be told: that weekend almost ended our relationship. It was the worst weekend of my entire life. But that's a story for another day.

One good thing about the weekend was my initiation into the much-loved Mexican tradition of cascarones. Even though it was a very difficult weekend for me, I had an inkling, even then, that one day I would have children with this man--bring children into his family. And I knew that when I did, and when we celebrated Easter together with these hypothetical future children, I wanted cascarones to be part of that celebration.

Fast forward eight years and I am so excited to crack a cascarone over Lucas's head as we celebrate Easter with his, my, our crazy Mexican family!

Monday, March 17, 2008

To Do: Make To Do List

I love lists!

And when I saw this on sk*rt I knew I immediately had to go make one!

To Do lists are my favorite kind of lists. I make them for myself, my husband and, occasionally, my friends. And those lucky people I supervised at work--they definitely got lists! (This is past tense because I currently do not supervise a soul--how nice!)

Putting tasks into list form helps me feel more in control of all the stuff I have to do. Somehow just having my list down on paper lets me relax.

I almost always try to include at least one task that is already accomplished which I can cross off immediately. That way, no matter how long my list is, I already am off to a strong start! (I do believe I learned this trick from my friend Caroline in college!)

So if you love lists as much as I do, definitely go make your own card. Better yet, share your favorite medium for keeping track of lists!

Child's Law

I think it is safe to say that this is a universal law among the infant, baby and toddler set:

The later your parents go to sleep, the earlier you must wake up the next morning.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Next Featherweight Champ

Lucas clocked me on Friday. Shock. Crying. Fat lip. Seriously. It. Really. Hurt.

After he hit me and the pain lingered--is still lingering two days later--I've come to the conclusion that I've never actually been hit in the mouth before.

You see people get punched in the mouth on TV all the time. Yeah, they get that look, grab their face, sometimes there's blood. Whatever. I never really gave it a lot of thought. Now I realize what they are going through (well, okay, not those actors but people who really get socked in the mouth).

Don't worry, it wasn't malicious. We're not training him in boxing or anything (yet!). He was flailing around trying to avoid me and his toothbrush and happened to have grabbed the fingernail brush and happened to flail at the precise angle to have that brush-holding-fist clock me square in the mouth.

There wasn't blood. But there was shock. Then tears. From both of us. My sudden cry kind of freaked him out, I think. And before you know it we were both sobbing. Luckily Abel was still home getting ready for work and ran into the bathroom to embrace and comfort us both.

We both calmed down and the incident is forgotten. Well, all except for my lip which is still a bit black and blue.

Advice for new parents: start practicing your bob and weave now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Springtime of the Toddler

I've always loved spring. Who doesn't? Warmer weather, more sunlight, fresh rain, new blooms. The world awakens! It is dawning on me that, for me, this spring will bring entirely new delights to my life. This spring I am officially the mother of a toddler. A toddler boy. A toddler boy who is obsessed with dirt and sticks. Although I love and appreciate nature, I'm generally not a down-and-dirty kind of nature girl. And so I am consciously making some spring resolutions...
  • This spring I promise to not be bothered by muddy knees or bottoms or elbows.
  • Dirty fingernails will be viewed evidence of an afternoon well-spent.
  • Rainy days will be opportunities to practice jumping and splashing.
  • Muddy patches of ground will allow for the perfection of our mud pie recipe.
  • Garden mulch will--no must--be moved via the back of small dump trucks.
  • I will appropriately marvel over collections of sticks, stones and all other manner of nature.
This spring may require additional stain-fighting power, changes of clothes and scrubbed fingernails, but I am confident that the additional fun will make up for all of that.

Come on Spring, we're ready!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Overheard Part II or In Which the Footnote is Longer Than the Original Post

I think Lucas could teach a thing or two to all those parents who need Supernanny's help! This is the conversation he had with Michael the firefighter on the way to the Doctor* this morning:

Lucas: (very sternly) No Michael. You sit. Two minutes. No hitting Kinky head. Two minutes Michael, okay?

*Yes, the Doctor. Lucas woke up with a red, swollen finger this morning. And, it was a little green around his nail: staph infection. Yeah, and he's been coughing so the Doctor listened to his chest: wheezing. Oh, and let's look at those ears, too: fluid.

Orders: soak the finger, antibiotics for the staph and ear infections and back on the nebulizer for the wheezing.

Fun times.

The thing is you'd never know this was a sick kid--no fever, sleeping well, eating well and crazy as ever.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


By me, standing outside of Lucas's room:

Lucas: Georgie, oh Georgie, I la loo.
Curious George Doll: (silence)
Lucas: Georgie, nice pants!
Curious George Doll: (silence)
Lucas: You're welcome, Georgie!

By my dear friend Jill, who is a social worker, in the hallway of a pych unit:

Psychotic man: (screaming) "I'm Jesus! I'm Jesus!"
Equally psychotic, just as emphatic, woman: (screaming) "Prove it! Prove it!"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spoil me

Okay Internet, I need some help. You see, Abel and I got out to our first movie of 2008 on Saturday. (Mom was visiting!) We basically high-tailed it out of the house and picked the movie whose start time was closest to our ticket-purchase time.

The Bank Job

The problem? The power went out in the entire movie theatre about 2/3 of the way through the film. We sat there in almost-total darkness for about 10 minutes until someone finally told us that the situation was unlikely to improve but they'd give us free vouchers. Ugh!

The movie was okay but I definitely don't want to sit through the first 2/3 again just to see the end. So, I'm looking for a spoiler. We got as far as the thieves actually getting into the vault. Did you see it? How did it end? Do tell!

Best line of the night: from a few rows back after the power died "Cellphones: the flashlights of the 21st Century."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

More adorable Lucas quotes

When two people are talking to each other and not paying 100% attention to him: "Guys! Guys! Settle down. Settle down."

Just before running off somewhere unknown: "Um, wait a minute."

When trying to convince me to turn on the TV: "Watch Handy Manny. Um watch Mickey. Okay watch Elmo. Watch dragon...."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ultimate Comfort Food

Growing up, we didn't have Kraft Mac & Cheese. Instead, to our despair as kids, my mom made home-made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese. The same home-made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese her mom made.

We hated it!

Oh why, oh why couldn't we just have The Blue Box?

My mom always told us that we'd grow to like it. In fact, she predicted, it would be our most-requested meal when we came home on college breaks.

Oh boy was she right!

That cheesy-ooey-gooey baked goodness--it is sooooooo yummy! It was my most oft-requested college break meal. I still ask for it when I go home to this day. And, Lucas and Abel, they both love it, too!

Yet, I never had the courage to make it myself. You see, when I asked for the recipe this is what I got:

"Recipe? Well, there isn't really a recipe."

You see, she makes it in the same two pots and same bowl every single time so things just "look right" you know?

Finally my sister got her to send a semblance of a recipe via e-mail. It included phrases like "until it is yellowish" and "it should look soupy but if it is too soupy then add more macaroni".


Well, I made it. And it was DEEEEEEElicious. And comforting. And Lucas and Abel devoured it.

The tradition continues!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The difference between my sister and me

Sarah always wanted a dog. Growing up she begged for one constantly. I was in on it for awhile but as I got older I was secretly thankful that my mom put her foot down so strongly against it.

After Sarah and Mike got married what was the first thing they bought with their "wedding money"?

A dog.

Me? A mattress.

You can read about how much she loves her dogs--now plural--here.

Me? I'll try to take my mom's line for as long as possible. Abel really wants a dog, too, so someday I'm sure we'll have one. And, I'm sure I'll love it. But for now life is complicated enough.

$41.94 comin' my way

Have you heard this?

All those gulps of gross fizzling citrus I forced myself to drink in hopes of shortening my cold were for nothing!

Click here to file your claim. I've already submitted mine.

If you didn't save your receipts (ha!) you can claim a refund for up to 6 packages without proof.

This kind of stuff makes me so mad.

The Opposide of the Terrible Twos

While giving me a big hug -- "I so happy Mama!"

Also with a hug -- "I la loo Mama!"

While running toward me -- "MY Mama!"

While squirming away from getting his diaper, pants or shirt put on -- "I want snaked body!"

While laying in his crib with eyes fluttering as he's pulling my hand toward the side of his face to stroke his ear -- "Sing Twinkle, Mama. Twinkle."

Monday, March 3, 2008

What's in a name?

When Lucas was a teeny tiny little guy his name just didn't fit him. It seemed too big, too solid for such a little guy. Between Abel and me we called him a million different baby-type nicknames. One day I started calling him Stinky and that particular nickname really stuck.

So much so that two years later we have nicknames for the nickname...around our house you will hear Lucas called Stinky, Stinks, Stinky Linky, Kinky, Kink-a-links, Kinks and on and on.

I'm so embarrassed about this.

And, I've tried to stop.

So many times I've resolved to myself that we would drop the nicknames and start calling him Lucas. The first resolution came as he really started talking. I was terrified that he'd think his name was Stinky. I've never really been able to drop it completely, though, because Abel won't even consider dropping the nicknames.

And, my deepest fear came true--Lucas calls himself Kinky. As in "No! Kinky do it!" or "Kinky shoes!". And yet, if you ask him what his name is he confidently replies, "Lucas".

Hmmm...has he, in his hard-working little mind, figured out the difference between his at-home pet nickname and his real name? Me thinks so!

Yet, I've always still been determined that eventually we need to drop the Kinky.

And then.

On my drive into work I was tuned into NPR (as usual) and, in the middle of a story about the complicated system of how Texas Democrats assign their electoral votes, something caught my attention.

Did they just say Gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman?

As soon as I got in, I googled "Texas Kinky" and what popped up? This.

He's a musician, author, chef, owner of a cigar company and politician.

A bit of an oddball, yes. But still a seemingly respectable and successful grown man.

Whose name is Kinky.

I may or may not be buying this for my Kinky.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

$6 = 3 hour nap = Priceless

In my continuing quest for fun indoor activities to help Lucas burn energy during these cold, cold winter days, my mother-in-law and I took him to open gymnastics at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex last week.

It was the best $6 I have ever spent.

This is a competition-grade gymnastics complex which also has child-sized equipment. They open the floor up to kids for open play several times a week. I've been hearing about it for months from other parents and wanted to go. I finally got my act together last week and let me tell you, it was definitely the first of many, many visits to come.

From the moment we walked into the gymnastics area Lucas was literally chomping at the bit to be released. We removed our socks and shoes (I kept my socks on, actually) and off we went. He was a wild man. I don't think he stopped moving for 50 minutes. There was jumping, running, climbing, pushing, balancing, swinging, sliding, hanging and any other action verb you can think of. It was truly amazing. He was rosy cheeked and sweaty and I'll admit I worked up a bit of sweat just trying to keep up with him!

The only downside was that it was a bit of a zoo. The website says they limit it to 30 kids but I think there were many more than 30 there. Include a ratio of about one parent per kid (some had two and others were one parent to two kids) and the place was packed.

Open play lasts for an hour but at about 45 minutes I could tell Lucas was running on fumes. I gave him a 5 minute, 3 minute and 2 minute warning that we were leaving. It protested a bit but was truly exhausted. We got our shoes, coats and hats on and were out of there before the masses and I was able to keep him awake on the drive home.

A quick bite to eat and he was down for the count--a count of 3 hours, that is.

I'm already planning to go back this Tuesday!